Kelso course has it covered for meet

AFTER the loss of three meetings during the Big Freeze, Kelso stages a six-race card replacement fixture tomorrow.

Racegoers can look forward to a great afternoon’s sport with the feature Class 2 hurdle race attracting entries from Lucinda Russell, Alan Swinbank, Jim Goldie and James Ewart.

Gates open at 11am, with the first race off at 1pm, and a £12 across the board single enclosure policy is also an added bonus.

Groundsman Brian Meikle reports the course in good order. “The rails are now at their innermost position, so there is fresh ground the whole way around.,” he explained. “The frost covers were put down on Monday, with the take-off and landings of all chase and hurdle fences being covered.”

Racing comes under orders at 1pm with the European Breeders Fund National Hunt novices’ hurdle, a qualifier for the £65,000 final at Sandown Park on March 12.

Jim Goldie has his horses in great form and could run Arctic Court after his recent strike in a handicap hurdle at Ayr. It will be interesting to see which race Kelso chairman Johnny Jeffreys selects for Freddie Brown to make his hurdling debut, as the seven-year-old course bumper winner also holds an entry in the second race at 1.30pm.

That contest, a two-mile novice hurdle, may see the ex-Paul Webber and Market Rasen bumper winner Cheatingsideoftown make his debut for the Sue Bradburne’s Fife stable, while Hawick handler Alistair Whillans will be keen to get a run into his highly-rated autumn Newcastle scorer Storm Brig.

Ferdy Murphy could be the man to follow in the two-mile novice chase and has pencilled in Catch Bob and Kellystown Lad in this competitive third race. Sandy Forster’s Soul Angel comes here off the back of a decent third at Hexham in November on just his second outing over fences.

Orsippus, winner of a Grade 1 race at Aintree last April, would be a big draw in the feature race on the card, although Kirkheaton trainer Michael Smith has also entered him at Ascot on Saturday – the yard could also be represented here by Texas Holdem. Four-time course winner and victor of Kelso Grade 2 Premier Hurdle in 2007, Bywell Beau has only been out of the first three twice in nine trips to Kelso and George Charlton will be hoping for more of the same tomorrow.

Following wins at Bangor, Carlisle and Hexham, Sue Smith’s Douglas Julian could try to extend his unbeaten sequence to five under regular pilot Henry Oliver in the penultimate chase of the day, although the Bingley trainer has also entered Mr Moonshine and You Know Yourself. Sedgefield trainer John Wade broke his leg skiing recently, but a win for progressive chaser Tyrone House would help put a smile back on his face.

The day is completed with another hot bumper, off at 3.45pm. Chris Grant may allow Dark Glacier to shoulder a 7lb penalty for his course and distance victory in November. It is also interesting to see Hyde Place entered, as he would be a rare bumper debutant for Darlington handler Michael Dods.

Annual membership badges are now available for new and existing members to purchase before and during racing, so anyone wishing to join should go to the office at the main entrance gate. Membership runs on the calendar year and provides great value with 13 race meetings at Kelso and approximately 90 free reciprocal days at other racecourses.